The cap-strapped Vancouver Canucks have to give Adam Gaudette a new contract this offseason. What’s a fair deal for both sides?
Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is facing his most difficult offseason yet, as he stands to likely lose one or two key contributors from the 2019-20 squad.
Benning’s toughest decision centers around top goalie and pending UFA Jacob Markstrom. Aside from that, Benning will probably be forced to choose between Chris Tanev (a pending UFA) and Troy Stecher (a pending RFA), unless he manages to clear out some cap space that would allow him to retain both.
Virtanen will certainly receive a nice raise from the $1.25 million he’s making this season. As will Gaudette, who’s finishing up his three-year entry-level deal. With Virtanen showing his ability to score 20-plus goals, he could very well triple his salary.
But what’s a fair deal for the 2018 Hobey Baker Trophy winner? Gaudette took major strides in 2019-20 with 12 goals and 33 points in 59 games (all easily career bests), but he hasn’t truly broken out yet.
With more ice time and power play opportunities, however, Gaudette should be able to develop into a reliable 20-goal and 40-plus point centre.
The Canucks and Gaudette might be better off taking a similar path to the one Virtanen went through. Vancouver gave him a modest two-year deal, and it worked out nicely for Virtanen, who proved that he’s worth well more than $1.25 million annually.
Vancouver could look to give Gaudette, say, $3 million per season on a multi-year deal, but what if he doesn’t take his game to another level? The Canucks might regret handing out that high much salary. On the flip side, what if Gaudette signed that deal, only to morph into a player that’s worth $5 million-plus per year?
Right now, the best bet is for the Canucks and Gaudette to agree on a cheap one or two-year deal. This would give Vancouver some much-needed cap room, and Gaudette would have the opportunity to set himself up for a much bigger contract down the road.
There’s a lot of time to discuss a new deal, but ultimately, a two-year deal worth around $5 million might be the best bet for Gaudette and the Canucks.